Official Compulsion

Official Compulsion Imposes on Ahmadis to Misstate their Belief Serious Violation of a Basic Human Right

Only last year, the authorities in Pakistan (NADRA) heaped another indignity on Ahmadis in that they are now required to make a statement on oath in writing against their core belief. To obtain a national identity card is an obligation under law, and to that end every citizen has to apply on a NIC form. In this ‘form’ in column 38, an Ahmadi is now required to state on oath that he/she is not a Muslim. We elaborate below.

Previously, the NIC Form would simply provide for section for religion (in column No.20), but now, in the revised NIC Form, NADRA requires that citizens of Pakistan who belong to the Ahmadiyya community negatively attest in column 38 that they are Not-Muslims, and then positively attest that they belong to the ‘Ahmadi’ or ‘Qadiani’ sect. Two filled-in forms are placed at Annexes, as samples.

We have been given to understand that NADRA has undertaken this revision  on the orders issued pursuant to the judgment issued by the Islamabad High Court (the IHC Order) in relation to W.P. No. 3862, 3847, 3896 & 4093 (the petitions).

In this regard, we highlight the following:

  1. The said declaration extorted through column No.38 is unnecessary, because in column 20 of the form the individual declares his/her religion and is thus clearly identified in accordance with definition provided by the constitution.
  2. Upon the observation by the Implementation Commission that the IHC judgment is not being implemented, it was brought to the notice of the Honourable Commission that NADRA has incorporated an unnecessary “declaration on oath” in the basic registration form on the pretext of implementation of the above mentioned judgment of Islamabad High Court. The NADRA representative present before the Commission acknowledged the fact.
  3. It is noteworthy that the single bench of Islamabad High Court transgressed, through the IHC Order, on to matters which were not before the Islamabad High Court under the Petitions and proceeded to issue such directions that are contrary to the directions issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its Judgment dated 19th June 2014 and the clear provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan.
  4. In addition to the foregoing the judgment issued in the case of Province of Sindh v. M.Q.M. (PLD 2014 Supreme Court 531) is relevant wherein the court has specifically held that human rights encompass both positive rights and negative rights and expressly acknowledges the right to remain silent. Thus the mandatory oath in column no. 38 is in direct breach of verdict of the Court.

In plain language, the mulla and the authorities know that Ahmadis firmly believe themselves to be Muslims. Others and the law may consider them what they like, but an Ahmadi cannot state on oath that he is a non-Muslim. To compel him to make that statement is coercive and manipulative practice through oppression by the state in league with the mulla. It is a serious violation of freedom of conscience and religion. For the authorities to quote a sordid detail from an irresponsible judgment of a single IHC judge who has been disgraced (although on other grounds) is an improper use of discretion, particularly in view of the fact that IHC judgment violates not only international grundnorms but also the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (Suo Motu No 1 dated 19th June 2014).

In the present situation, an Ahmadi has only two options, 1) to tell a lie regarding his belief, or 2) to abstain from acquiring a national identity card. The former is morally wrong while the latter is a criminal offence. Both are reprehensible but easily avoidable for the state.

Given that the previous NIC Form is in any case in compliance with the applicable laws and orders, the NADRA should remove Column 38 from the NIC Form.    

June 30, 2019

Annexes: Two Forms – previous and present

Annex I to

Official compulsion…

Annex II to

Official compulsion …